So, Experian (and other credit check agencies) are to be paid by our government to snoop through our spending information and make judgements on how that spending fits with our income profile…
Of course, New Labour did soften us up to this concept of snooping with their (2008) plans for a Home Office ‘Big Brother’ database which would detail our every phone call; text message; email; internet search and online purchase.
Strikes me, though, that if I am to relinquish civil liberties then the New Labour reasons cited (‘fighting terrorism’) rather trump the Condem’s reasons cited (fighting benefit fraud).
It also strikes me that this is simply the beginning of the nastiness.
The mythology which has built up around those numerous apocryphal tales of sponging benefit claimants who enjoy a luxury lifestyle on your taxes is never more potent than when the screw begins to tighten on access to benefits whilst economic recessions deepen.
And no, I am not suggesting that fraud is pretty or morally neutral – or that it does not exist. I abhorr the fraudulent claimant – however statistically small – as much as the next person.
I have never subscribed to the view that being left-wing means being soft on fraud; or that it means defending unwillingness to work or to contribute to society. In fact, for me, being left-wing means being pro-society; doing as much as you can to actively work for others; contributing to the tax system to ensure a fair society which protects the vulnerable and disadvantaged, the sick and elderly.
A Condem assessment of Benefit claimants entails an assumption that all claimants are undeserving scroungers out to screw the innocent taxpayer. A Condem assessment launches itself from a platform of suspicion and a belief that only the stick motivates.
When will our politicians – when will we – realise that a failure to tackle poverty will only result in perpetuation of poverty and inequality.
Generally the children of the long-term unemployed suffer deprivation on a multitude of levels. Housing is poorer; educational attainment lower; chronic health conditions more common and life expectancy lower; and the liklihood that they too will be unemployed is greater.
Breaking this unholy inheritance is essential if we are to reduce the size of the Benefit bill.
Sure Start – and programmes like it – are being scythed by the gleefully grim Chancellor Osbourne. Routes out of poverty are being closed off. The rhetoric of scrounging takes their place. We will not provide avenues out of poverty; we will reduce opportunity. We will use the big stick approach to beat our undeserving poor. We will castigate them for being poor. We will make them poorer still. We will increase ourbig pool of cheap labour – and force this lumpen pool of low-life scroungers to move from their communities and families in order to follow employment.
And big multi-million pound companies like Experian will sell our civil liberties down the river whilst they take their cut from this beating of the poor…